As Australians flock to Brazil for the Rio 2016 Olympics, keeping in touch with loved ones back home can be both difficult and expensive: but are you better off slipping a local SIM card into your phone or paying global roaming fees to your usual telco?
Australian Business Traveller reviews both options including what you'll pay and what you'll get in return.
Roaming in Brazil with your Australian SIM
Using your Aussie SIM in Brazil has many time-saving advantages and allows you to remain reachable on your regular mobile number.
For that privilege, Telstra customers can buy a Zone 3 ‘Travel Pass’ which provides unlimited local and international calls and SMS plus 75MB of data per day, which is pooled and can be used at any time throughout the duration of your pass.
Three days sets you back $45 and seven days costs $105, while a fortnight of connectivity can be bought for $210 and 30 days for a whopping $450.
(Buy a seven day pass and you’ll get a total data allowance of 525MB, which you can use at any time during that same period.)
Optus users are normally slugged $2/minute to make calls in Brazil, $1 per SMS and $1 per MB, but between August 1 and September 28 2016, Optus’ $10/day ‘Travel Pack’ will cover the Olympic host country, too.
That means you’ll get unlimited local and international calls and unlimited SMS during your visit for $10/day, plus a daily data allowance of 50MB which you can again pool and use at your leisure across multiple days.
Vodafone regulars will be pleased that the telco’s $5/day roaming deal works in Brazil – and year-round, not just during the Olympics.
That means all of your normal Australian plan inclusions follow you to Rio for just $5 per day: so if you’d normally enjoy unlimited calls, unlimited SMS and 6GB of monthly data at home, you’ll get the same in Brazil as well.
Buying a Brazilian SIM card (‘chip’) instead
Until recently, only people with a Brazilian ‘CPF’ (the country’s version of a tax file number) could buy and register local SIM cards.
That’s no longer the case, but it’s not uncommon to encounter retailers who haven’t been brought up to speed – which is why we’d suggest the TIM Visitor Prepaid SIM card, or ‘chip’, a product designed entirely with international visitors in mind and (usually) with staff training to match.
In exchange for a modest R$50 (A$20), you’ll get R$50 of credit to use as you wish, such as to buy a 1.5GB data pack for R$25 (A$10) which lasts seven days.
Calls home to Australia and to other countries cost R$1 (A$0.41) per minute, calls within Brazil are billed at R$0.50 (A$0.20) per minute and text messages to any country are also charged at R$0.50.
Whether this proves more cost-effective than roaming will depend on the length of your visit and what you’ll use most, with local ‘chips’ showing benefits for most data-hungry travellers and the roaming options better value for those making lengthy or frequent voice calls.
Heading to Rio 2016? Also read:
- How to upgrade LAN's South American flights using Qantas Points
- Flying Qantas home via Santiago? Use the LATAM lounge instead...
- Air New Zealand tempts Aussie travellers with South America flights
- Earn and burn Qantas Points on TAM (LATAM) Airlines
- Avianca Brazil joins Star Alliance
- Luxe South American lounges for LATAM
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